By Curtis Morrison
After two Trinity High School athletes were accused of sexually assaulting 17-year Savannah Dietrich, the Jefferson County Attorney’s office negotiated a plea deal with the two young men.
Only Dietrich claims she had no say in the deal.
Seeing a lack of justice, Dietrich decided to fight back and she identified the two minors by name in a Tweet.
Attorneys representing the young men attempted to hold Dietrich accountable, charging her with contempt of court … and that’s when the Courier-Journal’s Jason Riley broke the story on Monday.
Since then, the story went national, and developments are happening quickly.
Dietrich supporters and fans have diligently inserted the boys names in comments on every story written throughout the land, whether on CBS or on Huffington Post.
A petition was set up on Charge.org by a woman in Cockeysville, Maryland on Monday called “No Charges Against Savannah Dietrich for Naming Her Rapists.” In less than three days, the petition already had 118,000 signatures.
Although attorneys representing the boys have since abandoned their misguided efforts to hold Dietrich in contempt, people are still signing the petition.
Wednesday, Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell announced he’s going to use this example as a reason to open up the juvenile justice system to the media.
But why is O’Connell attempting to control the narrative on this case?
Let’s step back and take a look-see at who in the Jefferson County Attorney’s office prosecuted the case:
That would be Trinity High School alum Paul W. Richwalsky, Jr.
Richwalsky served on his Trinity Class of ’67′s 40-year reunion committee, and due to his financial gift to Trinity of between $5,000-$9,999, he had the privilege of being included in Trinity’s 1953 Society’s President’s Circle. (The Leader, Fall’07)
Is it reasonable to believe that Richwalsky may have an interest in preserving Trinity’s reputation, and could that have compromised his negotiation of the plea deal?
Before you answer, a source tells Insider Louisville that Richwalsky specifically asked to prosecute the case. Emails sent to Richwalsky Wednesday for comment have not yet been returned.
And maybe that’s why O’Connell wants to control spin.
It’s difficult to live in Louisville and not know how connections among Trinity alumni and other private school grads provide many men privileges not enjoyed by the rest of us.
Heck, Louisville’s Mayor Greg Fischer is himself a Trinity alum. Not that there’s anything unusual about a parochial school alum helping out a current student. Some might say that’s ideal.
But maybe there’s a line which should not be crossed?
About Curtis Morrison: Curtis Morrison is a blogger at Louisville Courant, investigative reporter and preservation activist who lives in the Highlands.